Chemical Engineer makes final three in research project competition

24th April 2018

The university has announced the finalists of its research project competition – selecting three that have the potential to change lives. Birmingham has committed to fundraising for the chosen winner over the next year, helping to drive their research forward to potential commercialisation opportunities - ultimately providing benefit to more people.

One of the finalists is Dr Sophie Cox from the Department of Chemical Engineering. Her project, Engineering new medical systems to fight antimicrobial resistance, is focused on combating antibiotic resistance, which is predicted to kill more people than cancer in a few years’ time.

Read on to find out more about her project, and how you can help her chances of winning the competition.

Learning from nature

With World Immunisation Week starting today, and April's Year of Engineering theme being ‘Improving Lives’, it seemed fitting to share Sophie’s research.

Honey contains natural antibiotics called reactive oxygen species, which destroy bacteria and are produced naturally by the body to fight infection. Doctors currently use these natural antibiotics to treat wounds, but it is sticky and difficult to apply the correct dose.

Sophie and her team are working on creative ways to deliver the product in a variety of ways, including as a spray, a cream, and a powder - which becomes a gel when applied to a wound - to create a protective barrier. These methods enable reactive oxygen to be used more widely across the body and can control how the drug is released for accurate dosage.

Watch the video below to see the team in action.

It's a significant breakthrough in antimicrobial resistance, and great to see a chemical engineer at the forefront. What's more, there is clearly an opportunity to advance this research and help improve lives around the world.

Cast your vote and help a chemical engineer

The winner of Birmingham's Philanthropic Research project will be decided by an online vote. On behalf of Sophie, we're asking you - the chemical engineering community - to help. You can vote for her project in two easy steps:

  1. 'Like' the YouTube video
  2. Fill out your name and email address at
  3. Or you can vote in one click at

Sophie says:

"Antimicrobial resistance is probably the biggest healthcare challenge we will face in our lifetimes. With your support this research has the potential to save lives across the globe.”

If she wins the competition, the donations from fundraising could be used to buy essential lab equipment to test and develop the products, and additional researchers to bring these promising systems to clinical trial within the next five years.

Voting closes on 11 May at midnight (BST). Results will be announced later that month and fundraising for the successful project will begin in the Autumn.